What will be the impact of Brexit if I have been legally residing in the United Kingdom for more than 5 consecutive years?
Until 31 December 2020 (unless transition period will be extended)
The current situation is maintained. You benefit from a right of permanent residence in the United Kingdom after 5 years of continuous legal residence. In principle, continuous legal residence means that you did not spend more than 6 months in each 12 months outside the United Kingdom. Among other things, this status entails the right to stay indefinitely in the United Kingdom.
From 1 January 2021 (unless transition period will be extended)
After the expiry of the transition period, the United Kingdom will have the right to request your residency documents. Consequently, it is important to make use of the EU Settlement Scheme and apply for a “settled status” in due time if you would like to remain in the United Kingdom on the basis of your right of permanent residence. It is already possible to register now. According to their current position, the British authorities will allow you to register by 30 June 2021. In fact, this is a grace period of 6 months which extends the transition period for EU citizens who arrived in the UK before 31 December 2020.
You can obtain a “settled status” as soon as you meet the applicable conditions, without the discretion of the British authoritities. Please note that the conditions for application are explained under Practical suggestions for Belgians living in the United Kingdom. If your application is successful, your “settled status” will be registered digitally. This status will be maintained for life, for you and your family members. If your family members originate from a non-EEA country, they have to make a separate application for a “settled status”. Please note: a “settled status” may be repealed in the case of continued absence from the United Kingdom for 5 years and 1 day.
Furthermore, you can enter and leave the United Kingdom provided you are in possession of a valid identity card or passport. If you have a “settled status” in the context of the EU Settlement Scheme, you will be able to enter and leave the UK with a valid identity card until at least 31/12/2025. With an "EEA family permit", your family members, originating from a non-EEA country, have easier and quicker access to the United Kingdom.
Conclusion: if you immigrated to the United Kingdom before the end of the transition period (31/12/2020) and have accumulated 5 years of continuous legal residence, you will need to apply for the “settled status” before 30 June 2021 in order to continue to live in the United Kingdom.